Burnley first team coach feels new role will strengthen ties between Under 23s and first team

Steve Stone believes that his new role in the senior management setup at Turf Moor will help strengthen the link between Burnley's Under 23s and the first team.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 7:30 am
Burnley FC first team coach Steve Stone

The former Newcastle United coach, who had successfully overseen the Clarets' move into Premier League 2 at U23 level in his time in the club's academy, replaced the departing Tony Loughlan last week.

Josh Benson, Anthony Driscoll-Glennon, Jimmy Dunne, Joel Mumbongo, Lewis Richardson and Bobby Thomas were all handed their competitive debuts for Sean Dyche's side last season.

Others have been in and among first-team training sessions at the Barnfield Training Centre and involved in matchday squads in the Premier League and cup competitions.

Ben Osborn of Sheffield United is challenged by Josh Benson of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Sheffield United at Turf Moor on December 29, 2020 in Burnley, England.

"I know what they're about," said the ex-England international.

"I've worked with the likes of Richard Nartey, Bobby Thomas and Lewis Richardson. They understand what is needed to become a first team player.

"They understand that from what I've taught them over the last two-and-a-half years.

"The benefit they've got now is that I know them as players so when the manager asks me about them, what they can do and what they'd bring to this squad, I will be able to give them song and verse about them, rather than second-guess them."

Jamie Vardy of Leicester City battles for possession with Jimmy Dunne of Burnley during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Burnley at The King Power Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Leicester, England.

Stone added: "I will know them in detail. I think that is key. I'll still work closely with whoever is in charge of the under 23s [Michael Jackson] in the coming months to make sure we still have that link that I had with Tony Loughlan.

"That's an integral part of the football club, we need to keep bringing the youth through and it's one of the things we're trying to push.

"The manager has been great with it ever since I've been here. I think we had seven debuts last year either in the Premier League or the cup. That's a massive progression."

Stone - whose playing career began with Dyche and assistant boss Ian Woan at Nottingham Forest - has been with the Clarets for close to three years since replacing Michael Duff as U23s' manager.

The 49-year-old feels as though he knows the club inside out, which is why he is so confident that the transition will be a smooth one.

"It's something that I was always looking to do because you're always looking to progress in your career," he said.

"I was really happy in the role that I had with the under 23s, I'd been with them for two-and-a-half years, the lads were moving in the right direction, and I was really happy with the way things were going.

"But sometimes opportunities arise in football that you can't turn down. I know the first team, I've been working with the manager [Sean Dyche] and assistant Ian Woan over the past two-and-a-half years on matchdays.

"I've worked with them closely and tried to get the under 23s doing exactly the same as the first team. The transition was a natural one. To get the call from the manager to tell me that it was available, I jumped at the chance. I didn't have any hesitation at all."

He added: "It's all about trust and knowing each other's personalities to bounce off each other.

"Myself, the manager and Woany were all very different personalities, but we're all striving towards the same thing with the way Burnley play and the way we go about the structure.

"I understand what this team needs from a first team coach so it was a natural step for me. I've studied how the first team plays, that's why the under 23s play the exact same way.

"I've left whoever comes in with a good base to take on. They can now be successful themselves. I always wanted to leave them in a better position than when I started and I think it is. Now I'm looking forward to the new role."